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The maintenance contract

Website maintenance is essential if your website is to carry on working for your business 24/7.

Your website has been up and running for a few months now and everything still looks the way it did the day it was delivered. Nothing has gone wrong and the pages come up just as you ordered them to. Why did you ever bother to sign up to that website maintenance contract?

That’s the contract that your web developer assured you would look after your website. They told you told that it includes domain name & hosting, and you could have basic maintenance at a small extra charge. What is “basic maintenance”? you asked, and they told you that it covers minor bug fixes with email only support and a guaranteed response within 24 hours. Of course, they didn’t explain that the “guaranteed responses within 24 hours” actually means the auto-response “your email is important to us”. So you signed up and pay a monthly charge

What is NOT included

The “minor bug fixes” part of the contract is a reactionary clause. Your developer will not check on your website regularly and relies entirely on you to let them know that there is a bug. You got the auto-response, so what next?

The web developer’s proper reply comes a day or so later and it is all bad news. The “bug” is not a bug but out of date modules or designs or CMS, or even an outdated server. None of these are covered by your “basic maintenance” contract and you are given a quote to upgrade the appropriate piece of software or hardware. Your willingness to pay will depend on, amongst other things, how critical your website is to your business and your desire to have it working properly again.

Just to remind you here, in case I forget later on, web developers do not normally include hardware and software upgrades in a basic maintenance contract. Also, they do not normally include a regular health check of your website and you will need to do that yourself.

Your maintenance health check

Now that you have been informed you will need to mitigate the risk of something going wrong. You could always get in touch with us and ask for a proper maintenance contract to give you the peace of mind that your website will not break.

Alternatively, you could do it yourself. Be warned, this takes discipline on your part to stick to your maintenance health check routine. Here is your task list:

  1. Get familiar with your Content Management System (CMS), specially the updating of it because that may be a time consuming task
  2. Login to your website regularly – if you are adding content regularly then you already do this. If not, then make a note to login at least once each week
  3. When an update is available, implement it at the earliest opportunity being careful to check that the upgraded version will still work with your other modules, designs, CMS, etc.
  4. If you are unsure about what to do then contact your web developer and be prepared to pay
  5. If your upgrade goes horribly wrong and you break your website then contact your web developer and be prepared to pay more

The picture below shows a WordPress website admin area of a website that needs some maintenance (we did it and it all went well with no “down time”).

We check this website formally once each month and do the upgrades for the client. As you can see, there are a total of 7 items needing our attention. The first one, you might think, is the CMS upgrade. We do this last because all of the other upgrades will be compatible with the existing version of the CMS. Upgrading the CMS first may break the site because 1 or more modules or the design may not be compatible with the latest version.

We always check for compatibility because if there is potential for conflict then we do not implement the upgrade. We do not confine this compatibility check to the website being maintained but also include research of the manufacturers’ own websites, forums and social media to find if others have experienced any failures.

Website maintenance is essential

Whether you choose to do it yourself (to save money) or you choose to have it done for you, make sure that you know what you are getting for your money and that it meets with your expectations. If in doubt, ask before you sign.

If you want to know more about how we can look after your website and other web assets (social media, etc.) get in touch today.